Welcome to the Department of Salad #13

What I say is that, if a human really likes salad, they must be a pretty decent sort of human.

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THERE ARE SOME THINGS we’ve been meaning to tell you, here at the DOS. And right now, following a 3-Day Death Battle with our salad laboratory infrastructure (computer + phone went bananas, in concert, as if trying to kill us ), seems like a good time.

Before the 3 Dark Days, the plan for this week had been to offer you an extremely alluring salad from Mimi Aye; my conversation with her opened up a whole new way of thinking about salad, and I’m looking forward to sharing that with you—but it will have to be next week.

For now, the big topic at hand is that the DOS is going paid. I’m not sure when exactly (probably next week) or how much we’ll be charging per month ($6 or $7? What do you think?), but the time has finally come. (It turns out that buying so much lettuce and etcetera costs a lotta lettuce.)

We’ll still be weekly, with time off for holidays, but if we miss an issue because of, say, a skateboard accident or a dog bite or a bad sunburn, we will make up for it with extra salad treats, okay?

However: you always continue to get at LEAST one or two delicious recipes in every single weekly issue. And if you know the DOS, you also know we usually can’t stop at one or two.

So this week, in lieu of the newsletter we had planned for you (the photos for which are trapped somewhere on a planet accessible only to people who didn’t get the hot idea of downloading the new operating system Big Sur on their already overburdened MacBook Pro) we have outtakes from earlier newsletters that got too long, a few other favorites that are in constant rotation around here, and this link connecting you once again to all past recipes and their corresponding issues, in order to remind you of what you love about the DOS and how truly dark your life might be without it.

LAST WEEK’S FOCUS ON CHOPPED SALAD reminded me of this quickie that you can throw together for lunch in 10 minutes flat. It was the DOS desk lunch at least once a week in July, and it’s exactly the kind of dish you’ll regularly gobble up like Charles Chips. This is a pretty common combo, but it just never gets old. (I originally saw a photo of something like it on a registered dietician’s Instagram and went straight to the kitchen to re-create it.)

*RECIPE: Simple Little Chopped Salad

Serves 2 as lunch (or 3, if by 3 you mean 3 tiny birds with bad appetites)

  • 2 cups cooked white beans or chickpeas, at room temperature (I’ve used Rancho Gordo Marcellas, Alubia Blancas, and the California Cassoulets, which were my favorite.)

  • 1 large English cucumber, peeled (or not), seeded, and chopped into 1⁄2-inch pieces 

  • 1 pint or more small (cherry/grape) tomatoes cut in half or quartered depending on size

  • 2 tablespoons (or more) finely chopped red onion 

  • Nice big handful of basil and/or mint, chopped or sliced thinly; or whatever other herbs you desire

  • Flaky sea salt

You can serve this on some greens, or do what I do and eat it straight out of the bowl. Simply dress it all with a splash of sherry vinegar—it really doesn’t need olive oil! I usually add vinegar, some salt, taste and adjust. But if you require a dressing, use this simple and wonderful one, which is in regular rotation around here:

*DOS Garlic Sherry Vinaigrette 

  • 1 large clove garlic

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

  • Freshly ground black pepper 

In a mortar, mash the garlic together with the salt with a pestle, until a paste is formed. Whisk in olive oil and sherry vinegar. Season with freshly ground black pepper. 

I ALSO WANT YOU TO HAVE something nice to eat with salads that is not an entree, necessarily, but more of a perfect companion. For me that is my own spoonbread. My original version is in my book; it’s plain but still luxurious. I later adapted it for Food52 to incorporate cheddar and chives. Woohoo! Scallions are also a good addition.

*RECIPE: Emily’s Cheddar and Chive Spoonbread for Supper

  •  1 1/3 cups cornmeal (I used Bob’s Red Mill Medium; you can use fine as well)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk

  •  4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • 5 large eggs, separated

  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated, sharp cheddar cheese (buy something decent)

  •  1/2 cup finely chopped chives (or more, to taste; I have substituted chopped scallions to great effect)

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a large soufflé dish or 3-quart oval pan, or another similarly sized dish (I have also used a 9-inch square and a springform). In a large bowl, mix the cornmeal and salt with a fork.

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. Slowly stir in the cornmeal mixture, whisking until it begins to thicken. Cook for about 3 minutes—continuing to whisk!!—then remove from heat. Stir in the butter.

  2. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks. In a larger bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Once the cornmeal mixture has cooled a bit, stir in the egg yolks. Stir in cheese and chives. Next, gently fold in the egg whites. (If you don’t know how to do this correctly, it’s very much worth it to go on Youtube and learn, preferably from someone with a British accent.)

  3. Pour the mixture into the soufflé dish and bake for 40 minutes. The middle should be soft, but not loose and definitely not liquid. Serve immediately with lots of butter. This is good leftover, but nothing beats it hot.

I’D LIKE YOUR HELP! I want to do a Tuna Salad Issue, featuring our collective favorite versions, by crowdsourcing. I started this on Twitter this fall; you can read the responses here. They’re so much fun.

But my point is: I’m continuing my Tuna Salad Poll here. If you don’t mind, please leave your favorite version at the end of this newsletter? You don’t have to give me a recipe: just the highlights.

AND BEFORE WE GO! I can’t resist offering you this nice salad “idea” (as opposed to an actual salad “recipe”) to help get you through winter. This is a dish that definitely qualifies as an Odds and Ends/Fridge Clearing salad. But it looks and tastes like something you’d get at one of those fancy salad takeout spots.

*SALAD IDEA

Combine, in proportions that make you happy:

  • Shredded chicken (poached or roasted, whatever you like; I shred it by dragging a fork along the grain; shredded is definitely the texture this salad wants)

  • Shredded cabbage (you can use it straight up crisp, or you can toss it generously with salt it in a colander to wilt it a bit, then rinse thoroughly and drain; both are terrific),

  • Carrots sliced lengthwise in thin strips

  • Scallions sliced lengthwise in thin strips

  • Cilantro leaves

  • Other things that would be delicious: crisp cucumber, apple

Toss this together with my slight adaptation of Martha Rose Shulman’s Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette. I double the ginger. And since I added spicy garlic chili sauce (this is in your grocer’s Vietnamese section I promise; if I can find it so can you), I left out her one clove of crushed garlic. I left out the 1 teaspoon brown sugar (or agave nectar) and her sesame seeds, which get in my way. Feel free to add them back.

  • 2 teaspoon finely minced ginger

  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

  • 5 tablespoons canola oil or light sesame oil

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil

  • 1 tablespoon Vietnamese garlic chili sauce (or something along those lines)

Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake shake shake shake.

NEXT WEEK: We’re going to absolutely shower you in delicious salads, including one that I’ve just fallen in love with, from the Burmese food writer (and our Chef Salad guest) Mimi Aye, author of this excellent cookbook. Mimi and I had a very interesting Salad Zoom (for me, at least) that I’m looking forward to sharing. In the meantime: PLEASE share the Department of Salad with friends and family who deserve to know about it. See you next Friday.

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